knocked up (but not entirely bowled over)
The two of us had a mom date night on Friday (afternoon) and managed to get out between feedings and familial obligations to go see KNOCKED UP. As card-carrying Judd Apatow fans from way back (Freaks and Geeks was a religious experience) and new parents with an interest in the way pregnancy stories are told, we had very high hopes. And the movie was hilarious. Most of the time. The other times-- like a good chunk of the middle and toward the end-- it dragged. In fact it has us both a little bummed out. We've been mulling the source of the bummer and we've decided it's this. The movie is about guys. It's great on guys. The guys are funny. The guys have chemistry. The guys-- even the guys with NO LIVES-- seem to have very important lives, lives they love and enjoy. The women, on the other hand...
(detailed dialog-style analysis of Knocked Up after the jump, if you've seen the film or don't care about spoilers)
R: Judd Apatow always seems to be telling a sort of more complex version of the coming of age story, about everyone's lingering desire to remain a child, or inability/refusal to give up "childish" behaviors. These behaviors are what make people interesting (or honest), the ridiculous dreams, the goofy jokes, maybe even the occasional (or hourly) drug use. And of course we agree, at least with the idea if not the articulation...that the world without this stuff would be a pretty horrible place. But for some reason, his version of these longings for the girls in “Knocked Up” are not nearly as much fun—the girls don't seem to really have any dreams that don't revolve around being attractive or spending quality time with their husbands.
C: Watching the guy deal with the pregnancy, I recognized all the things we went through—sadness at loss of spontaneity, friendships, time, the ability to be irresponsible- but the women seemed to snap seamlessly into a kind of maternal robot. Even the 5 year old daughter was riding the guy. She was already the “nagging mother.” And, in fact, all the kids were girls. Family = women. Guys need to get "out" of that.
R: There is some screen time given to women’s losses, too; as the heroine says, “I have given up my body, my job, my vagina!” But she’s on TV, even the threat to her job was actually about her body. And the vagina anxiety is real but what is it really about? Being sexy. And the low point of the movie for the female leads was when they get told they’re no longer sexy enough to cut the line at the club? I mean, yeah, it’s a bummer. But everyone’s said how the women are so multifaceted in this movie. Is pining for hotness (rather than just exuding hotness) what's defining depth in our female characters? Not that women don't do that, but they also need the same things the guys in the movie need...to be able to say fuck it once in a while and do something irresponsible.
C: I was also thinking that Apatow kind of got himself into a bind with the set up because the women had to be the straight ones to make it all work and he just got stuck, I think, with our main girl—he didn’t know what to do with her. she's not the shrill "wife" but she also lacked any real personality—she was just sort of there. She seemed to just represent pregnancy rather than a real person. Usually his women characters are great though: the warm-hearted Ebay saleswoman in "40-year-old Virgin."
R: The girl in "Freaks and Geeks" too.
C: Yeah, this girl was warm and accepting but just sort of had nothing of her own (no friends, no interests). The conspicuous absence of any other inner life left her sort of blank and that blankness was filled by “needy pregnant woman” junk.
R: She seemed sort of catatonic, in a way, which is not unheard of in the pregnant. the weirdest thing for me was how her transitions happened, out of nowhere.
C: And why did she want him involved? She was clearly REPULSED the morning after. All he said that seemed to win her over was "I'll support you" and BAM she's in. There’s this sense that all women want to hear is a man saying "I'll stop FILL THE BLANK (fantasy baseball, bong hits, whatever)" which is sort of horrifying, that our wants are reduced to that.
R: That and being young and hot.
C: Its just that sad stereotype that men get together and drink and play sports and women get beauty treatments (for men).
R: Even women's selfishness has to be fundamentally unselfish. Treat yourself to a bikini wax!
C: Yeah, what about the lack of pubes in the crowning shot?
R: I’m not sure I even know what to say about that. It’s just a little tragic that we have come to the point where showing a shaved crotch is considered less shocking than showing pubic hair. I did think it was especially weird considering the beard/vagina joke earlier. Maybe they should have said that guy’s face looked like a 1970’s vagina.
C: All weekend I was trying to think of ways it could be justified—maybe when you’re stretched that far the pubes are hard to see?? Maybe the MPAA has a ban on pubes? But it was a waxed porn star birth! An inflatable doll style vagina. We gasped for a reason, and I don't think it was the reason the movie intended.
in media momming
I really wamt to see this movie however, it is taken from the book, Knocked Up by Rebecca Eckler. Not only did the producers use the title of her book, but for advertising, the movie used the same picture that is on the cover of her book.
I heard it was a good movie and I would love to see it but, shame on the producers for not crediting Eckler and until then, I refuse to watch it.
The book is an amazing read, no matter if one is pregnant or just like reading funny books. It really calms the nerves of first time moms. Especially the unplanned pregnancies and the moms who are not married.
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